by Ed Symkus

It's a few seconds after Colin Farrell's second big fight scene as comic-book nemesis Bullseye in Daredevil when a wiry, average-sized figure rises and leaves the screening room.

A few seconds pass and a waft of cigarette smoke drifts through the room in Los Angeles. A few more and the figure settles back in: Colin Farrell couldn't quite handle himself without a quick hit of nicotine. His assassin with the perfect aim is the wildest card in Daredevil, writer-director Mark Steven Johnson's adaptation of the Marvel comic about Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck), a blind lawyer and Manhattan superhero-by-night.

Affleck's at his best here when he's behind his red leather devil mask; his best scene comes when he meets the love of his life, Elektra Natchios (Jennifer Garner), who can smile and twinkle with the best of them when not kicking butt on her own. Despite the passion of followers of the comic, Daredevil has been positioned as a lesser-known title that won't hit Spider-Man heights; in fact, the overall impression of the entertaining jumble is one of a second-tier title. Adequate, goofy, but it ain't going to change your life.

Farrell, who's gained a reputation as a ladies' man and an intense young up-and-comer, most recently in The Recruit, is as intense first thing in the morning as he is on screen. He says he never read comics. "There's not much of a comic book culture where I come from," he says in his elegant, rapid-fire Irish brogue. "It was all new to me, this kind of mythological folklore that's contained in comic books, whether it's DC or Marvel."

He's always intense, but he's way over-the-top in Daredevil. "Oh! Ridiculously over the top! Yeh. I always concern myself with that actor-y bullshit of character, regardless of what people say. They talked of Tigerland as an action film, Minority Report as an action film -- I just concern myself with the character and what goes on in his head and heart. But this time there was no internal struggle going on. It wasn't someone who lost their father or found themselves in a prisoner-of-war camp, or going through anything really. It's just the fun and enjoyment and pleasure that he derived from killing people!" A puff. "I enjoyed it."

And the most fun? "The costumes. You put that bullseye on, you're bald, you got piercings, you start moving a little bit differently and swaggering. And then what was hard was the same thing. You growl a lot and you feel like you're just ridiculous and just a caricature and over the top, so you deal with that."

Supposedly there was a scene where Farrell and Garner go at it and he almost bit off her lip. "Yeah, yeah," he says with his puppy-dog-that-ate-the-shark smile. "She spilled the beans on me, did she?" A bigger grin: "Bitch!"

You were actually gnawing on her face? "When in Rome, I mean, what are you going to do? I didn't get a chance to kiss her, so when I was [trying to kill] her, I thought I'd just nibble on her lip, give her a sweet hereafter kiss." He mimics. "I may have gone over the top with that, but it was tough with her because she's such a tough chick, she's so fit, she's so able to fight and do all the stunts and the wire work herself that maybe I forgot for a second that she was a girl."

So what's your favorite Britney Spears song? I ask, by way of broaching a subject in the tabloids of late. "Zheez! I really don't have one. All of her work." Have her records? "No." And... "Are we romantically involved? No. She came out to set of S.W.A.T. with Big Rob, her bodyguard, and she visited me and Samuel Jackson on the set. It wasn't exactly a candle-lit affair. Sweet, sweet girl."

He says his life is not going to be all Hollywood movies. "You do gigs like S.W.A.T. all the time, it'll f----in' kill ya. Don't get me wrong, life is not hard for Colin Farrell, but it'd kill me soul. I don't know what it is because I can never judge my work and I'm fairly unhappy with it most of the time to be honest with yah, but I've tried to do different characters. I'm lucky enough to have been in big pictures, but I try to play guys from different backgrounds in different stages of their lives."

"The fact I got the chance to do all this shit still surprises me," he laughs.

Publication date: 02/13/03

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